Objectives and Findings
The purpose of this study, which we conducted
in the late 80's and early 90's, was to learn how the top management teams at some of the leading and prominent
large firms were changing the way they work working together, both horizontally and vertically, to be able to move
While our regular client base is with smaller
companies, the companies we studied looked more like the companies researched in the best seller, In Search of Excellence. We studied these larger firms (See Participant List) first, because the speed issue is more difficult for them, and second, because
we knew they were working hard to be more nimble and responsive. Small companies naturally move fast. Larger firms
must think deeply about how to organize for speed. We knew they were doing just that, and set out to learn, and
then distill, the principles they were discovering.
While in general, we found the U.S. firms
to be more leading edge than their European counterparts, we learned something from every participant. Here are
some of the highlights:
BMW - remarkable job rotation, leading to an exceptional esprit de corps. "We rose
from the ashes of 69"
Jaguar - Sir John Egan's inspiration for us to dig more deeply into his question:
"How do I get the man on the line to think the way I am - fast?"
Peter Drucker - Who personally helped us better answer that question, clarified the issues surrounding
upward and downward communication, and led us to Ford.
Ford - Without changing the physical organization, Ford designed an upward and strategic communication system that cut their entire 300,000-person company into two layers.
Be sure to remind us to tell you how they did it. It was an incredible feat.
Marriott and Walt Disney - Developing goals and processes to accelerate the
actual making of strategic decisions
American Airlines - Singular focus around the central question:
How do we need to change the
way we are doing business
to compete more effectively?
We concluded that to gain speed in strategic
decision-making, companies needed to improve their strategic processes in three ways:
1. Reduce emphasis on the annual planning
2. Replace it with better year-around processes
3. Expand involvement deeper to include the entire company